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Tour Merimbula Sewage Treatment Plant this Saturday

Ian Campbell 24 May 2019
The poo pipe that once did extend into the sea was destroyed in the 1970's, ever since the remains of the pipeline have dumped excess treated effluent on to Pambula - Merimbula beach. Photo: Brent Occleshaw for BVSC.

The poo pipe that once did extend into the sea was destroyed in the 1970’s, ever since the remains of the pipeline have dumped excess treated effluent on to Pambula – Merimbula beach. Photo: Brent Occleshaw for BVSC.

See where much of the Bega Valley’s poo and wee ends up now and where it will end up in the future – Bega Valley Shire Council is opening the gates of the Merimbula Sewage Treatment Plant (STP) on Saturday (May 25).

This is a rare opportunity to take an inside look at one of Council’s ten sewage treatment plants and to find out what happens after you flush your toilet, do your washing, have a shower or bath, run your dishwasher or wash your hands.

Water and Sewer Services Manager, Jim Collins, says that on average about 700 million litres of sewage ends up at the Merimbula STP each year.

“There’s been a lot of community interest in the Merimbula STP lately due to the upgrade project so we’re offering behind-the-scenes tours where people can see the plant in action and ask questions,” he says.

The NSW Environment Protection Authority has raised concerns with Council’s existing beach face outfall on Merimbula- Pambula Beach and the use of dunal ex-filtration ponds in the sand dunes immediately behind the beach-face outfall.

In response, Council is moving ahead with an upgrade to the STP and the quality of the wastewater it producers and construction of an ocean outfall into Merimbula Bay to dispose of excess treated wastewater.

However, some in the community have questioned the common sense of disposing of wastewater at sea.

“The crux of the matter is a higher treatment that will give us almost potable water will negate the need to construct a $30 million pipeline out to sea,” says Marianne Kambouridis, convenor of the Merimbula/Pambula Wastewater Alternatives group.

“There is no logic in this waste of resources if we are going to increase the treatment.”

Dunal exfiltration ponds currently used by BVSC impact groundwater and Aboriginal heritage. Photo: Brent Occleshaw for BVSC.

Dunal exfiltration ponds currently used by BVSC impact groundwater and Aboriginal heritage. Photo: Brent Occleshaw for BVSC.

From Council’s perspective, the ocean outfall is the solution and Saturday’s tours are part of their pitch to the community, head along and ask your questions. Tours start at 12:00 pm and 2:30 pm and each identical tour will take one hour.

Council’s Environmental Education Officer, Natalie Ryan, will lead each group around the site taking in aeration tanks and catchment ponds, as well as the sludge lagoons and drying beds.

Due to safety reasons, the tours are for adults only and bookings are essential. Numbers are strictly limited per tour. Participants must wear sturdy closed shoes and it is recommended you bring sun protection and a drink bottle.

To book a tour of the Merimbula STP go to EventBrite.

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